Monday, December 01, 2008

dealing with death

i'm not a particularly religious person, by what many would consider conventional measures. thanks goodness, i've passed that along to my daughter. now, she and i are getting to experience the growth and development of a set of ethical values and sense of spirituality in her first kid, a four year-old daughter. nyla, who attends a lutheran church's pre-school in her neighborhood [addie cautioned me when i first spied the literature about the school a couple years ago not to worry, that kids of many of her friends go there, and her friends share the same religious apprehensions that we do, and they said it really wasn't bad] has had to deal with the deaths of some close family members in her short life, including her dad's grandpa when she was just two. she and her great grandfather were good buddies, i think it's fair to say, even though he lived [to a ripe old age in the 90s] in oklahoma. he came to iowa a couple times, and she saw him there a few times, too. closer to home, though, she has dealt with the sudden death of duke, the family doberman, a little over a year ago. more recently, a playmate's family cat died. she assures me that it's okay, that the animals and people go to one of two places [and apparently interchangeably]: heaven, and/or one's dreams.
so that's a rather cool, benign way of assimilating things, i think. her way of doing the occasional pre-meal prayer is to tell me that i have to close my eyes before i eat. i think that's probably wise advice before doing many things.
a few weeks after duke died, they got another family "dog" -- a jack russell terrier. [i'm told that after a few years, this breed become less annoying. i think the actual mechanism is the offended person becomes more tolerant. i find it hard to believe that this little dog--bless her hyperactive metabolism--is capable of being less annoying. whatever...]
anyway, poor old dynah, the family weimeranner, is getting old, long in the tooth, and just generally decrepit. she's maybe 11, 12 years old. but she's not going to make it to christmas. her suffering has gotten too much for all of us. she's shown above with amelia, my borzoi-greyhound, and old duke, back in happier times for them, in 2005.
so addie called the vet this morning to make that call to arrange for dynah's last trip to the vet. nyla overheard it, and grabbed some paper and her crayons.
she's making a picture for dynah to take with her to heaven. i'll find out later, but i suspect it will include nyla's little brother jabari, and duke, among all the other key players in dynah's family. my religious zealot friends should probably save their hallelujahs for later, though. i would just remind you that i was raised in a pretty religious environment, and addie certainly has had enough exposure to religion that, if they had the kind of detectors for religion that they did for plutonium in silkwood, she'd have spent even MORE of her adolescence in the shower than she already did.
it doesn't make it any easier for addie, who has to make that drive to the vet sometime today. but it does make it a little easier for nyla, and for jabari, who will have this death process explained to him by nyla countless times over the next few years.
interesting events...


Jadi Brown said...

I would like to take the time to thank you. You are a very caring and wise person. I am the daughter of Tina Brown whom was killed just about two years ago on her bicycle. As the reunion creeps closer I am reminded of that horrible nightmare but then I remember how wonderful you and the other cyclists were during that time. And recently I have read what you had wrote and it was very touching. I just want to say thank you and I hope your holidays are wonderful.

the mostly reverend said...

thank you so much for your note. i notice from time to time that someone has visited my site to read [re-read] the post about your mother's death. each time i see that someone has visited, it tugs at my heart and punches me in the gut, as i think about the sadness and sorrow that surrounds your mother's tragic death.
i felt like such an intruder as i entered the funeral home the day of your mother's service, and yet you made me feel so welcome, and you shared your feelings--grief, sorrow, loss, and more--with me, a complete stranger, in such a loving way. it gave me a greater sense of what a wonderful woman your mother must have been.
and it reminds me anew--as something does each and every day--of my own mother's death back in 1988.
i want you to know that my thoughts are with you, your family, and your friends, on a regular basis.
each time i ride my bike, i pedal with memories of cyclists like your mother and the many others who died doing what i do on a daily basis, knowing that i would want them to do likewise, should such a fate befall me.
i know that your affection for your mother and her love for you, as well as the love and support of your family, will help you through the difficult times ahead, and will be with you through the joyous times, as well.
thank you so very much for visiting, and for writing leaving your note.
please share my best wishes with all your family this holiday season.

the mostly reverend said...

read the original post here:

here is a post from december, 2007: